Ebola vaccine proves effective in mice

Researchers have developed an Ebola vaccine that protects mice from the disease and the advance may lead to an eventual human vaccine that could protect against a biological attack.
The vaccine combines antigens, antibodies and an immune booster to provoke a more robust immune response. It can also be grown quickly in tobacco plants, making it possible to expedite production in the event that the Ebola virus is released as part of a terrorist attack. The study was published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, The Scientist reports.
Every few years, Ebola emerges in African forests and causes outbreaks in humans that kill 50 to 90 percent of the people infected. The disease depletes the clotting factor in the blood, causing the victims to hemorrhage internally. Funding for Ebola vaccine research by the U.S. government was increased after the September 11, 2001, terror attacks attack because the virus could potentially be used in a bioterrorism attack.
Scientists had previously found difficulty producing large quantities of the outer shell glycoprotein the body uses to recognize the Ebola virus. They found that when the glycoprotein accumulated in the mammalian or transgenic yeast cells used to mass produce it, the cells would die. By fusing the glycoprotein with an antibody that aids the immune system in recognizing the protein, plant cells view the complex as harmless and they shuttle the complex to storage vacuoles. This allows the immune complex to grow in transgenic tobacco plants, according to The Scientist.
When the complex was injected into mice along with an immune booster, approximately 80 percent of the mice survived a lethal dose of Ebola. The next step will be other mammalian trials followed by an eventual human trial during a future Ebola outbreak.
"It’s a great first step, but boy are there a lot of other steps," Chad Roy, an infectious disease aerobiologist, said, according to The Scientist.